The Boston Red Sox take on the Chicago Cubs on Friday night in their first game back from the All-Star break.
Boston entered the break on a five-game winning streak, pushing it to five games over .500, but it still is in last in the extremely tough American League East division.
Chicago is seven games out of first in the NL Central, but it is the only team in that division with a positive run differential. The Cubbies could be poised to make a run in the second half, but does that get started against Boston?
It may be tough with youngster Brayan Bello (6-5, 3.04 ERA) on the mound for Boston. Bello has led Boston to a win in four of his six starts since the beginning of June. He takes on Cubs veteran Kyle Hendricks (3-3, 3.04 ERA).
Let’s dive into the odds and my best bet for this Friday night matchup:
Red Sox vs. Cubs odds, run line and total
Red Sox vs. Cubs prediction and pick
There are a few reasons why I like Boston to win this game, starting with Bello, who is quickly becoming the ace of this Red Sox staff.
The young righty has a 2.39 ERA in 11 starts since May began, and he’s allowed more than three earned runs in just one outing all season long.
Boston is 9-5 in the 14 games Bello has pitched in this season, and the advanced numbers back up why he’s been so effective.
According to Baseball Savant, Bello is in the 53rd percentile in expected ERA this season. He’s also done a solid job at missing barrels, ranking in the 57th percentile in barrel percentage.
Since June 5, he’s allowed just 29 hits and eight walks in 40.2 innings pitched.
Hendricks has been no slouch this season either, leading the Cubs to a 6-3 record in his nine starts and allowing more than three earned runs just one time.
However, I think Boston’s offense is going to be the key differentiator in this game, and the reason why I’m wagering on the Sox to win.
Over the last 15 days, Boston is third in Major League Baseball in OPS and fifth in runs scored, helping the team turn things around with that five-game winning streak before the break.
Chicago, on the other hand, is just 23rd in OPS over that same stretch, although it is 10th in runs scored.
With both of these pitchers in peak form right now, I’ll trust the hotter bats in Boston to get the win on Friday night.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.